D-day–July 18, 2008 Quake

July 17, 2008 § 2 Comments

So, this is the day. I’m posting this, looking at 4:34 am in my Mac. I’m living in a condo in Makati so if this happens, then, I’m screwed. Why? An 8 magnitude quake could flatten buildings in Makati. A quake like that could unleash 18 billion tons of energy waves. That’s what happened to San Francisco California in 1906. 

Four days ago, a series of 6.4 magnitude quakes rocked the Philippines. Before that, a 7.9 magnitude quake hit China, killing 8 people. Japan was also hit by a strong quake. Indonesia has been hit by a series of very strong quakes, between 6-7 magnitudes after that real shocker of a quake last December 2004 which caused that huge tsunami. The latest was a 7.8 magnitude, which occurred after an 8.4 magnitude quake killed nine people. 

If we are to believe that pre-seismic velocity changes such as this precedes a major or a great earthquake, as what this news article published in this site www.inthenews.co.uk/news/science/sport/books/general-sport/scientists-move-closer-earthquake-prediction-$1231089.html, then there’s indeed, reason to worry.

Fenglin Niu of Rice University says that:

” detecting a pre-seismic velocity change is at best only a small step toward reliable earthquake prediction”

Scientists say that “Such pre-seismic changes are consistent with lab experiments that exhibit precursory phenomena, namely an increase in microcrack density preceding the occurrence of an earthquake.

If we are to believe this though, may never stop ourselves from worrying. I mean, these countries which I wrote here are our neighbors. They lie in the Pacific Ring of Fire and by induction, if it happened in these countries, it could also happen here. 

According to the USSEIS (a US seismologic agency), 8 magnitude quakes occur every 5 to 10 years. When was the last time we had an 8 magnitude quake?

Can anyone predict an earthquake event?

Badaoui Rouhban, Chief Section for Disaster Reduction of the UNESCO based in Paris, France has this to say:

It is not possible to predict the day and location of an earthquake, including an 8- magnitude one. However it is possible through in-depth seismological research, measurements and observations to estimate the probabilities for the occurrence of potential future earthquakes in a given geographical location. For example, scientists are able to estimate that over the next 20 or 30 years the probability of the occurrence of a major earthquake in Istanbul, Tokyo, Tehran, Chile or the San Francisco Bay area is such and such….(in percentage). The Chinese have successfully and exceptionally been able to predict the Haicheng earthquake in north-east China in 1975, which remains the only destructive earthquake to have been successfully predicted. This enabled several hours’ warning to be given and the loss of life to be kept very low. 

Another expert, Dr. Carlos Estuardo VENTURA, Director, Earthquake Engineering Research Facility,Department of Civil Engineering at The University of British Columbia,Vancouver, CANADA has this to say:

The technology that we have today does not allow us to predict earthquakes, in general. There have been cases, however, in which scientific-based predictions have worked for certain types of earthquakes and regions of the world. I am confident that one day in the not so distant future we will know enough about earthquakes that it would be possible for us to make predictions with a high degree of confidence. 

Locations of recent quakes in Asia-Pacific

Locations of recent quakes in Asia-Pacific

Okey. So, it’s not possible.

What we can deduce from all these is this: we need to monitor pre-seismic velocity changes every now and then. Hence, I’m giving you some data related to this from the National Environment Agency (NEA) of Singapore which reported this:

  • The most recent quake so far monitored is in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia which recorded a 5.5 magnitude quake last 14 July 2008
  • Recent earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or above detected within the region bounded by 60°North – 50°South, 60° – 180°East.
Origin date/time (Singapore time) Latitude Longitude Magnitude Region
15 July 2008 at 11:30AM 38.93° N 76.77° E 6.1 SOUTHERN XINJIANG, CHINA
13 July 2008 at 10:58PM 21.03° N 121.11° E 6.1 TAIWAN REGION
08 July 2008 at 03:42PM 27.52° N 128.39° E 6.2 RYUKYU ISLANDS
06 July 2008 at 05:09PM 43.52° N 146.08° E 6.1 KURIL ISLANDS
05 July 2008 at 10:12AM 53.89° N 153.03° E 7.5 SEA OF OKHOTSK
03 July 2008 at 11:04AM 21.1° S 170.93° E 6.1 LOYALTY ISLANDS REGION
30 June 2008 at 04:53AM 45.15° N 137.51° E 6.0 NEAR E. COAST OF EASTERN USSR
28 June 2008 at 08:54PM 10.82° N 91.76° E 6.3 ANDAMAN ISLANDS REGION
27 June 2008 at 07:40PM 11.03° N 91.91° E 6.7 ANDAMAN ISLANDS REGION
25 June 2008 at 10:53AM 1.42° N 97.21° E 6.0 NORTHERN SUMATRA
Are we next?

Are we next?

The US Geological Society, meanwhile, released a map showing all the earthquakes that occurred during the past few days and most of them are within their own region and that of the USSR, near Alaska.

However if you look closely, there’s also a string of strong earthquakes in Asia.

So, its natural for people to worry since the Philippines lie in that “dreaded” region called the “Pacific Ring of Fire.”

Let me assure you though that the breath and volume of literature which I read about earthquake point to just one thing—earthquakes are one of the enigmas of nature. With the exception of cats and dogs, humans have’nt been able to accurately predict when an earthquake would hit a particular area or location.

It may or may not happen. If it happens, then, we can’t do anything about it. If it does’nt happen, well, we may as well prepare for it. Being prepared is always a good thing.

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§ 2 Responses to D-day–July 18, 2008 Quake

  • enbs says:

    So you did believe the prediction despite your public denials of its veracity ! If your denials were meant merely to calm down your fears then I can accept that. Everyone has his own way of coping with fear. What I cannot accept is people who say one thing but actually do another. Pretty common in the Philippines especially those of the politician type. I just can’t tell which one you are. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. You were just too scared the prediction will come true you were trying to deny it away.

    What now ? If the earthquake does happen tomorrow or next week, can we say that this ‘prophet’ is still good – that he was just off by a few days, weeks or months ? I never believe these self-styled seers so don’t give any more credence to those of his ilk.

  • Hi enbs,

    I did’nt believe in any of this brazilian’s shitty predictions. I just wanted to present an objective blog which shows us why it’s impossible to predict earthquakes. The onus of belief lies within us.

    The reason why people fear the unexpected is precisely due to its unpredictability. People fear earthquakes because we don’t exactly know much about it. But when someone presents scientific evidence that explains the very nature or source of our fears, then, fear dissipates.

    This is the very reason why I wrote this entry–to explain the nature of quakes and how scientists are trying very hard to know more about it.

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